FOUR fisherfolk from the Tañon Strait were recently recognized as Ocean Heroes for championing conservation, coastal law enforcement and sustainable fisheries in Visayas.
Recognition was also given to Tañon Strait Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) which are effectively-managed through strong local government and community collaboration. These MPAs are now providing a wide range of environmental, social and economic benefits for coastal communities.
“Our Ocean heroes inspire so many, including our enforcement agencies, with their vigor and courage in protecting the Tañon Strait. May their determination and dedication spread, as we work together to protect and conserve our rich yet fragile marine resources,” Oceana Philippines Vice President Gloria Estenzo Ramos said.
The 2017 Ocean Heroes are Virgilio Aviso, 65, from Amlan in Negros Oriental; Renato Buenviaje, 55, from Escalante City in Negros Occidental; Jocelyn Moya-Hekrdle, 51, from Toboso in Negros Occidental; and Mariano Sarcol, from the coastal municipality of Barili in Cebu.
They stood out from dozens of candidates for their commitment to protect the Tañon Strait, a 161-kilometer strip dividing the provinces of Cebu and Negros Island.
The Strait is one of the largest and most productive MPAs in the country, hosting 63 percent of the country’s coral species and 14 types of whale and dolphin, while providing food and livelihood for 42 towns, cities and municipalities in Cebu, Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental.
The awards were integrated with the recognition given to the exemplary stakeholders and partners of Negros Occidental, during the culminating activity of the celebration of the 25th year of the establishment of its Provincial Environment Management Office under the leadership of lawyer Wilmon Penalosa. Governor Alfredo Marañon led the public officials and participants in the momentous occasion.
Launched in 2016, the Ocean Heroes Awards is a partnership among Oceana Philippines, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to honor courageous community leaders to ensure the sustainable management of the marine ecosystems of the Tañon Strait. Its first batch of winners are Norlan Pagal, Oliver Dayupay, Veda Raunillo and Roberto Quigay.
This year’s Ocean Heroes Awards expanded with partnerships between the Provincial Governments of Cebu, Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental, Tañon Strait Protected Area Office and Rare, plus the inclusion of a new category for “Best-managed Marine Protected Area” inside the protected seascape, spearheaded by the Provincial Agriculture Office, Rare plus the province of Negros Oriental.
Oceana works around the globe to promote sustainable fisheries and science-based coastal resource management. (PR)